Sehgal Foundation has undertaken several initiatives for community development with its corporate partners. Sarah Berry from the Foundation writes on one such initiative - Krishi Jyoti, undertaken for the agricultural development in Nuh district of Haryana
Agriculture is the primary sector of India’s economy. However, this is not the only reason why this is an important sector: this domain provides food for the country’s citizens. It is, hence, of utmost importance that the sector is supported with the latest developments in science and technology.
Krishi Jyoti (enlightened agriculture) is a joint initiative of Mosaic India Pvt. Ltd. and SM Sehgal Foundation (Sehgal Foundation) to provide knowledge and agricultural inputs to farmers in order to improve soil nutrition and gain better crop productivity. The initiative began in 2008 in two villages in the Nuh district (formerly Mewat) of Haryana. Within eight years, the programme expanded to 60 villages, and the activities grew to include water management and improvements to school infrastructure. Krishi Jyoti now covers most of the Nuh district and some villages of the adjoining Alwar district in Rajasthan that have similar geography, climate, and cultural features. The partnership continues to spread to more rural communities in India.
Narpal Singh, Market Development Officer, Mosaic India, explains, “I remember, at the beginning, farmers didn’t want to even pay attention to anything that was ‘new’ in their terms. ‘Why should we?’ would be the common question. The satisfaction with the yield had led to a kind of ‘happy inertia’. Meetings that were organised saw scanty attendance and resistance, but slowly and steadily, things began to improve, especially when the success stories began to emerge. As they say, nothing succeeds like success. Gradually, things began to change. A kind-of middle path was introduced which saw the introduction of best practices through the amalgamation of the traditional with the modern.”
“The objective was to enhance yield and quality – not only through a crop-centric but also soil-centric approach. We cover a wide range of subjects like drip-irrigation, management of poultry farms, maintenance of soil quality through a balance of minerals required, responsible use of the right kind of fertilisers and many more aspects which encourage not only an exponential rise in crop-yield but also facilitate the quality of the soil,” Singh adds.
Maqsood, a farmer at village Patkhori, Nuh says “I am a Meo, with a family of nine members, and own twelve acres farm land. I was provided training on the use of seeds and fertilisers for mustard, wheat, millet, and onion. After the Krishi Jyoti Project, I observed 2–4 quintals/acre improvement for each crop. The colour and the taste of the onions are better, and all the seeds have a shine to them. With the increase in income, I have purchased 0.75 acres of land worth 7.5 lakh.”
The success stories are many. These stories portray the gradual adoption of techniques that farmers were not aware of earlier, but which they have adopted over a period of time. The difference has not only been noticeable at the level of agricultural output but also at the level of behavioural and social parameters. Women farmers see a better future for themselves, education – especially for girls – is being given priority, and enhanced incomes have seen augmented styles of living - a cascading effect, actually.
“I have seen the work done by Krishi Jyoti in the school. It is very satisfactory and of great quality. We wish they could extend some more support for the school,” says Moti Lal, whose two daughters are studying at the Khedli Khurd Government School of the district.
Singh feels that this is just the beginning of change; there is so much more to learn and adopt, he feels. Indeed, the wheel of fortune spins in the favour of the one who makes the effort to change his/her own destiny.
(The views are expressed are author’s own)